How to Write a General Contractor Business Proposal

Do you need to write a proposal to promote your contractor or remodeling service business to a prospective client? Don’t sweat it! It doesn’t have to be an intimidating process. The goals for any service business proposal are the same: introduce your organization, highlight your services, describe the costs, and convince the client that you are the right choice for the job. To speed up the proposal writing process, you may want to use pre-designed templates and get ideas from sample proposals.

Whether you are describing plumbing services, bidding a construction project, promoting your house painting services, quoting an HVAC installation, pitching your plan for a remodel, or even asking for funding to start up or expand a contractor business, your proposal structure will be similar. Here’s the basic structure to follow: introduce yourself, summarize the prospective client’s needs, then describe your services and costs, and finally, provide information about your organization, your credentials, and your capabilities.

For a contractor business, you will also need to include some detailed information about your services and history that is pertinent to the client’s specific project. For example, painting contractors might need to include information about the paints, stains, and equipment they typically use; remodeling contractors may want to include descriptions and photos of similar remodels they have successfully completed; and a general contractor would definitely want to include information about the experience and training of company personnel, safety records, bonding, insurance and so forth.

Always keep in mind that the purpose of a proposal is to persuade your potential clients to give you their business. You must prove that you can deliver the services they need. A simple quote or price list can never substitute for a real proposal.

Proposals should be targeted to a specific client. This means you need to gather information about your client so that you can present a proposal tailored to that individual client’s needs. It’s never a good idea to send all prospective clients the same sales letter especially when there are competing bids. Clients are much more likely to accept a proposal tailored just for them.

So, let’s get back to the order described above. Start your proposal with a Cover Letter and a Title Page. The Cover Letter should deliver a brief personal introduction and contain your company contact information. The Title Page is just what it sounds like: the name of your specific proposal (for example, “Proposal for the Munson Kitchen Remodel”, “Proposal to Construct the New Technical Institute Science Building” or “Installation of Your New HVAC System”).

After this introduction section, add topics that describe the needs of your client. If you are presenting a proposal for a complex project, you may need to write a summary to precede the detail pages. In a proposal for a corporate client, this is normally called an Executive Summary. For a less formal but still complex proposal, it’s more often called a Client Summary. In this summary and the following detail pages, you should demonstrate your understanding of the client’s requirements, goals, and desires, as well as discussing any restrictions or limitations you are aware of. This section should be all about the client.

Next is your chance to advertise yourself. Follow your introduction section and the client section with pages that describe what you are offering. These pages might have general headings like Services Provided, Features, Benefits, and Services Cost Summary, as well as more specific pages that detail the products and/or services you can provide and explain the associated costs.

Your specific business will determine the specialized topics and pages you need to include in your proposal.

A general contractor might need to include topics like Services Provided, Cost Summary or Estimate, Work Order, Insurance and Bonding Documents to start with. Once you get the basics the topics you include will depend on many factors such as the size and scope of the project and the needs of the client.

A plumbing, HVAC or electrical service company might also want pages such as Permits and Licenses, Certifications, Specifications, Standards Compliance.

A house painting company or flooring company might include topics for their Materials, Preparation, Products and Warranty.

A disaster or accident recovery specialize contractor may use extra topics such as Recovery, Repairs, Disposal and Environmental (for hazardous waste management).

A home or office remodel job may require additional topics such as a Statement of Work, Permits and Licenses, Inspection, Certifications, Insurance, Architecture, Renovation, Installation Schedule, Blueprints, and so on.

A full-scale construction project may require additional topics such as the Master Plan, Site Planning, Preparation, Location Analysis, Impact Statement, Project Management, Time Line, Community, Subcontracts, Scheduling, Materials, Construction, and so on.

If an architectural design needs to be done you might use specialty topics such as Concepts, Blueprints, Architecture, Environmental, Specifications, Alternatives, Special Needs (for designing handicap access) and Samples.

A specialty contractor such as a network cabling installer might use extra topics such as an Installation Schedule, Specifications, Equipment, Standards Compliance and Hardware and Software.

If you’re asking for funding to start a contractor business, you’ll want to add pages such as a Competitive Analysis, Industry Trends, Market and Audience, Marketing Plan, Insurance, Liability, Time Line, Funding Request, Services Provided, Products, Company Operations, Balance Sheet, Income Projection, Sources of Funds, Uses of Funds, Personnel, Legal Structure and any other topics required by the lender.

In your last proposal section, provide your company details, including pages such as Company History or About Us, Capabilities, Testimonials, Our Clients, or References. Your goal in this section is to convince the prospective client that you can be trusted to deliver the goods and/or services they need and want.

Those are the basic steps for organizing and writing your proposal. But you’re not quite finished yet. After you have all the information down on the pages, focus on ensuring that your proposal is visually appealing. Incorporate your company logo, use colored page borders, and/or add interesting fonts and custom bullets to introduce color and flair. One note of caution: be sure to match your business style when making these selections.

To finalize your proposal, it’s essential to proofread and spell-check every page. It’s always a good idea to get someone other than the proposal writer to do a final proof, because it’s very common to overlook mistakes in your own work.

When the proposal is perfect, print it or save it as a PDF file, and then deliver it to the client. The delivery method you should use will depend on your relationship with your potential client. While it’s common to email PDF files to clients, a nicely printed, personally signed, and hand-delivered proposal may make more of an impression: it demonstrates that you’re willing to make an extra effort for the client.

So, to sum up, a contractor proposal can vary widely in content depending on the nature of your business and the project you propose to undertake. Each company’s proposal contents will need to be a bit different. But all these proposals will have a similar format and follow a similar structure.

You can get a jump-start with pre-designed templates, simple instructions and tons of suggestions for content, by using a proposal kit. In a kit you’ll also find many sample contractor business proposals that will give you great ideas and help you quickly create your own successful proposal.

Creating Business Systems – Preparing Your Business So You Can Take A Holiday

If you find that you’re only ever taking short 2 or 3 day breaks here and there because you are worried that your business won’t cope while you’re away, then this article will shed some light on some key things you can do in the lead up to your holiday so that you can take a decent break to recharge your batteries and spend time with your family.

If you’ve decided that you need a week or two away, then the first thing that you must do in preparation for taking a holiday from your business is to write a list of all the things that you do on a daily, weekly, and fortnightly basis. When you have your list of things that you do, separate it out into two columns and write down all the things that absolutely cannot be done by anybody else, and all the things that with some training and instruction, could be done by someone else. Your next focus is to work on the things that could be done by someone else. Next time you do that task, spend just a little longer doing it, and write down the steps in a checklist.

Once you have the checklists done, choose a team member to perform those tasks and walk them through it first, and then get them to do it on their own and you then check it and provide constructive feedback.

For the things on your list that you deem can only be done by yourself, you need to work out if they can wait while you are away, or decide if they absolutely need to get done while you are away. If they absolutely must be done while you are on your holiday, someone else in your team must do them. If you’re going away for a week or two, I recommend that a month before you go, you should know who will be stepping in to “act” in your position and manage the business in your absence. Its vitally important that one person is appointed to manage your business and oversee the day to day runnings in your absence, so staff and contractors know who is in charge and who they can go to if problems arise, and even if you are contactable, it should only be for emergencies.

Before you go away, you should have a handover session with the person who will be acting and give them clear guidelines as to what they are responsible for, and what decisions they should be making (and not making) in your absence.

You should also let your key customers know that you will be taking a well deserved break and give them the name of the person who will be managing the business in your absence.

Key takeaway: When you’re preparing to go away on holiday and leave your business for more than a few days, you need to make sure that your team have procedures and checklists to do the things that you would normally do and that must absolutely be done in your absence. You should also appoint one person as the “caretaker” of your business so that staff and contractors know who is in charge. Start planning at least 1 month before if you’re planning on going way for a week or two, make sure your key customers know you’ll be out of action and let them know they’ll be in good hands while you’re away.

Andersen Window Contractors – Tips For Choosing Window Contractors For Andersen Series Windows

Andersen window contractors in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs can help with the installation and replacement of Andersen windows and most other manufacturers. Illinois has some tough weather conditions as we all know. Having a quality window system not only looks cool, but increases your homes energy efficiency and value.

Here’s some general tips on selecting a reliable Chicago window contractor for Andersen windows:

1. Referrals are the number one way to finding a reliable contractor for any trade or business transaction for that matter. Ask your friends and coworkers who they know. If the contractor is from your same town or suburb then getting references will be easier. Maybe you’ll know mutual people or business owners and everybody wins.

2. Get the window contractors business name and complete address. This will help you get references and see who else they’ve done work for. Also check how many years they’ve been in business. Experience is king.

3. Make sure the Chicago Andersen window installation and replacement contractor has Liability Insurance and Workers Compensation Insurance.

4. Verify the business owner / contractor is licensed.

5. Questions to ask the window contractors references: Punctual? Returned phone calls? Nice to work with? Would you do business with them again?

6. What is the Business Workmanship Warranty?

7. A successful and experienced window contractor is busy. They are also judging potential clients to see if the job will be profitable and if this person will be nice to work with. Most people in business have realized over the years that if someone is difficult to deal with in the beginning, they will be difficult and perhaps not even worth the money at the end of the job. When asking for references realize that both parties are doing the interview.

8. The two warranties to understand is the contractors workmanship warranty and the window manufacturers warranty. Andersen Windows has strict installation requirements that need to be complied with. If the Chicago Andersen Window contractor doesn’t adhere to Andersen’s (or other top window manufacturers) install requirements then the manufacturer warranty for defects and things like that will void.

How To Start A Business In Tough Times – Invest In Yourself, Buy An Ozone Business!

Worried About The Economy? Ready To Take Control Of Your Life and Start Your Own Business??

There are answers and options. If you are like many people you have watched the steady decline of good jobs leaving the western world. Debt is on the increase, unemployment is on the rise, and the real numbers are far more staggering than the government admits to; official figures only reflect those receiving unemployment benefits not the actual numbers of non-working adults. What is worse is that the dispossessed workers, who are often sincere in their attempts to try to find, a solution or a new job; discover they are “overqualified” or the positions for which they are qualified no longer exist!

There is good news!

There are several new business systems that have been developed in the last several years and are based around powerful ozone generator equipment. Unlike traditional franchise based business systems, there are no heavy-duty franchise fees, or costs, that are not related to the equipment itself. Stiff franchise fees make most franchise systems unaffordable to the average family. For instance to buy into many of the exisitng franchise models the potential franchisee must pay a fee from between 50,000 to 250,000 dollars. In many cases the fees only cover a few thousand dollars worth of equipment to a small percantage of the fee charged. The bulk of the franchise fee is pure profit for the franchisor. Since the majority of these new ozone business and equipment systems are not a franchise you are free to run your new business your own way without all the start-up costs and red tape.

Low Start Up Costs!

Many of the non-franchise based business systems offer no real equipment, and all you get for thousands of dollars of investment is a pile of paperwork, three-ring binders, CD’s, and DVD’s. These are what I call the information only based business or opportunity systems. These systems are typical of many multi-level marketing type products. Information only systems can be made to turn into profitable home based businesses, but alas the vast majority, from my experience are better at extracting money from the hopeful business person rather than providing them with a viable copyable model. They also promise riches and hope- rather than offering a viable, sustainable, replacement-income model. And speaking of multilevel marketing companies and schemes, many of these companies encourage participents to buy lots and lots of products to re-sell. Sadly many of these failed multi-level marketers are left with garages or basements full of products which they were unwilling or unable to sell or distribute; and the multi-level victim is left holding the goods and the hole in their bank account.

These New Ozone Opportunities Are Different!

Many of these new ozone business opportunites are located the USA and offer tough hand built ozone equipment. Whatever equipment you decide to buy make sure it was developed with the end user in mind. Ideally select one of the companies who offer machines, and are also end users of the equipment not just manufacturers. When you invest in an ozone equipment and business system, you are making an investment in yourself. Make sure to select heavy duty contractor grade equipment. There are four unique separate businesses that can be run with these ozone generators. All are separate independent business systems which the average person can be trained to implement, with very little technical skills, or background knowledge, or experience. Users report success stories from all walks of life, from college students, to retirees even housewives. Since the equipment does most of the work while the user is off site (ozone is not safe to be breathed) the equipment can be made to work for you. What’s best is, all it takes is a little gumption and stick-to-it-iveness, as there is very little competition in these new and exciting fields! What are they? What would you be doing? There are four exciting opportunities to use these heavy duty ozone equipment and business systems with if you want to make money!

Odor Removal:

This exciting new field has limitless possibilities. It takes less than a few hours to learn the ropes, and the best way to get experienced is to give away free treatments to potential customers that are what are called in the business, “bird dogs”. These are people that are in the position to refer future business and future clients to you. Who needs odor removal? Apartment building owners need odor removal. REO Realtors need to get rid of smells in houses. Used card dealerships need to get rid of cigarette and other smells. Gymnasiums need to get rid of sweat smells. Bowling alleys need to get rids of cigarette odors. Bars and restaurants need to get rid of food, beer, and cigarette odors. Auctioneers need to get rid of old people smells in estate homes. Homeowners need to get rid of musty basement smells. Pet grooming centers need to get rid of wet dog smells… Hotels need to get rid of all kind of smells. The list goes on and on!

Property Sanitizing:

There are nearly as many opportunities for finding santizing customers as there are odor removal customers, the list is practically endless! When you run any serious ozone equipment, you not only fill the space with a gas (that is made from the air itself) that completely eliminates the odors; you also kill 100% of the germs, bacteria viruses and mold spores too. But with sanitizing there is one huge benefit over simple odor removal, the sale is a repeat sale, and these customers need to be treated over and over again, this means a veritable cash machine. That’s right, in the sanitizing business there are customers whose places of business have a high traffic volume, and get routinely subjected to germs. That means the opportunity exists to sell the customer a monthly service agreement, and with repeat treatments you get a revenue stream that builds on itself. Who needs sanitizing? Doctors offices need sanitizing. Dentist offices need to get sanitized. Gymnasiums need to get sanitized. Taxi cabs need to get sanitized. Buses need to get sanitized. Daycare and childcare offices nee to get sanitized.Elder care facilities and nursing homes need to get sanitized. Businesses need to get sanitized to cut down on worker absence! Convention centers need to get sanitized! Sporting teams locker rooms need to get sanitized!

Mold Remediation:

Ozone equipment can be used in conjunction with mold remediation training and certification. There are many national mold certification and training programs available that will teach you to offer completely effective, field proven completely mold remediation which are used in conjunction with ozone machines. Mold contractors are using ozone equipment as far away as Australia and Canada, to safely use a mold removal system and ozone generators, to start raking in the big bucks. Mold is gold, they say in the construction industry. Mold is the new asbestos, say the lawyers. Black mold is completely detrimental to health. Today it is completely impossible to sell a home with mold at all. You can be trained to use ozone machines and remediation techniques, to completely eliminate mold. Thousands of homeowners have used ozone equipment to solve mold problems in their own homes.

Green Pest Control:

Ozone equipment can be used for completely green pest control that utilizes the power of an ozone generator. It is a good idea to guarantee success to add essential oils, and one of a variety of natural dusts. Purdue University recently proved ozone is capable to be used as a 1 time, 100% kill system, that works for bedbugs in 1 high intensity application.. Since killing bugs with ozone requires 10 times the gas volume, as it does to kill germs or odors, when you invest in enough equipment to kill bedbugs you automatically get enough equipment to do odor removal and sanitization too! Bedbugs are on the rise, infesting America, and ozone machines are the tools to stop them! This is another low labor low skill system, that a novice can learn in no time. Pest Control licenses are not necessary in most states to use ozone to kill bugs (check with your state)!

To Recap:

When you invest in an ozone generator based business systems, unlike expensive franchises, you don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars. When you buy an ozone business and equipment system, unlike multilevel marketing, you don’t need to spend any money on costly inventory to sell to your customer; as ozome treatments are a service based business! When you buy an ozone business system, it is not a way to get rich quick, but rather, it is a way to spend very little money and buy yourself a new career, one where you become your own boss, and finally get to call your own shots. When you buy an ozone equipment system, you get way more than books, CD’s, and DVD’s; you get the equipment you need, to make your dreams come true. Unlike most home based businesses ozone machines are heavy duty contractor grade tools that will last and last, and with a little elbow grease can keep making you money for years to come. Invest in yourself and your family, consider buyning a new career for yourself today!!!!

Top Ten Factors in Running a Successful Construction Contractor Business

It is not easy running a construction business. There are many pitfalls and ways to lose money but if you follow some basic steps you can not only make a living but become very wealthy. Many successful construction contractors have learned there are certain things you absolutely must do right all the time and certain skills you must have or acquire in order to make it in this very competitive industry. In this article I will summarize what it takes to be a successful construction contractor in their order of importance.

Most Important Factor: Hands On Experience

Do not even think about starting a construction contractor business unless you have at least five years of broad (meaning general, not specialized) construction experience. The only exception to this is if you intend on specializing in one area and one area only. We call this a niche. Niche’s can be very profitable, but they can also go away, change or be replaced by technology, new products, changes in the industry or societal changes. The best chance for success in the general contractor business is to gain experience doing everything. This general experience has many benefits. It gives you the ability to identify and hire competent individuals, fire incompetent ones, evaluate good work product and identify poor work product. Probably the most important thing it gives you is the ability to transition from being a technician to being a manager. The best experience comes from small to mid-sized construction companies that require you to be a jack of all trades. Larger companies have a tendency to pigeonhole you into niches. That is fine if your business model is a niche, but if you start a general contractor construction business with skills in only a few niche areas, you will fail unless you hire to your weaknesses.

Second Most Important Factor: Outstanding Accounting System

If you do not have a sound accounting system your construction business will eventually fail. This CPA has witnessed this too many times than I care to recount. Sound accounting systems allow you to evaluate whether or not you make a profit on a job by job basis. Going with gut instinct is dangerous and fraught with risk. A sound accounting system helps you identify those things you do right on each job as well as the mistakes you’ve made. Numbers don’t lie. Unfortunately, my experience has shown me that most construction contractors pay little attention to their system of accounting. There is a fear that proper accounting will set the business owner up for higher taxes. Thus, cash received on a job and cash disbursed go unreported in an effort to avoid tax. What a mistake. I don’t care how great your gut feeling is on each job, if you don’t have an accounting of every penny on each job, you can rest assured you are flying blind and losing money on each job. You will go out of business and your family life will suffer. If you decide to start your own business you need to act like a professional business owner and that means creating a sound accounting system. Failed accounting systems lead to litigation, failure and bankruptcy.

Third Most Important Factor: Effective Management

When you have hands on experience in the industry, forged by many years (at least five years) of working in every facet of the construction business, you are better able to make the transition from technician to manager. Effective management requires that you have sound procedures on many aspects of your business. Well-defined work product processes, along with accompanying task-specific checklists, allows you to drill your workers on every aspect of a task within a job. You should have a work product process with accompanying checklists for just about every major task within a job. This eliminates human error and allows you to make corrections before the task is officially completed. It is a construction company owners #1 management tool. You must develop a process for each job and each task. This process must be in writing and stored in a binder for each job, along with the task checklist. The task checklist should be calendarized. Your jobs binder should include the following:

Tab #1 – A copy of the signed contract and any change orders.
Tab #2 – Budget for the job. Budget for each change order.
Tab #3 – Accounting for income and expenses. The income portion would include the contract bid price, monies received either as deposits or as the stages of the project are completed and monies received for change orders.
Tab #4 – Task List Summary.
Tab #5 – Task #1 Process Summary and Checklist.
Tab #6 – Task #2 Process Summary and Checklist.
etc.

Last Tab – Customer sign off letter on completed work along with standard testimonial letter signed by customer, listing customer’s name and contact information along with permission to use the testimonial in marketing and as a reference for prospective customers. You will transfer copies of each testimonial letter to a separate binder that you will take with you to each prospect. This testimonial binder may be the only thing separating you from your competition. It gives assurance to prospects that you take customer satisfaction very seriously and may be the difference maker. It allows prospects an opportunity to reach out to previous customers in order to obtain references. It also shows the prospect your company is very organized and well run. Lastly, have a picture of the before and after on each job in this binder.

Fourth Most Important Factor: Strong Business Partnerships

A stable of competent subcontractors who have many years of experience working together is crucial to the success of a job. Each job is a team effort and having a strong network of competent individuals/businesses available to you for each job, and who understand your businesses processes, will make each job run much more efficiently. Efficiency and competency = profit on each job.

Fifth Most Important Factor: Project Bidding Process

You can be the most skilled, best managed construction company, with a stable of talented subcontractors and still go out of business if you do not have a strong process in place on bidding for each job. You can lose your shirt if you underbid a job. How does this happen? The most common cause of underbidding is not doing your homework and relying on your gut or unverified estimates rather than a fail safe process of checking and double checking each cost within each task. The devil in any construction job is in the details. The bidding process is very much like your business plan for each job. It must identify every task, every cost and each cost must be checked and double checked before bidding on the job. Where many construction contractors go wrong is in estimating the cost of tasks incorrectly. These incorrect estimates are caused by flawed assumptions on the tasks and the associated costs, which is the result of not accurately verifying and then re-verifying every task and every cost. It is a painstaking process but you must get the bid right. Your assumptions on each task must be vetted not once but at least twice. You know the rule: measure twice cut once. This adage is particularly true in the bidding process.

Sixth Most Important Factor: Marketing

Everyone in the construction business understands the importance of referrals. Most of your prospective customers come by way of referral. But referrals are not enough. What should be part of your marketing tool belt?

1. You should have an active web site that includes customer testimonials front and center.
2. You should join a networking group.
3. You should join a civic organization.
4. You should provide valuable assistance to local community non-profit groups (one or two will suffice nicely).
5. You should have a regular process of bidding jobs that are not referral-based
6. You should have a process for direct mailings very week.
7. You should have business cards, stationary, job site signs.
8. You should advertise in the yellow pages or local newspapers.
9. Customer Testimonial Binder (referenced above).
10. You should have brochures.

Seventh Most Important Factor: Stay Current With Technology and Replace Old Equipment/Tools

You must upgrade your equipment and tools to stay current with technological changes. This will not only improve efficiency but also the quality of each job. You must also replace old equipment and tools in order to get each job completed efficiently and on time. You will know when it is time for new equipment and tools when the old equipment and tools begin breaking down at a rate that causes recurring delays. When equipment/tools breakdown it can cause cost overruns and result in late completions. No matter how good the quality of your work is, missing completion dates harms your reputation.

Eighth Most Important Factor: Hire To Your Weaknesses

No matter how much experience you have and how skilled you may be there are certain things each one of us does well and certain things we do badly. More often than not, the things we do well are the things we enjoy doing and the things we do badly are the things we hate doing. A skilled business owner will hire people who do have strengths in areas the business owner has weaknesses. As an example, one of my clients nearly went out of business because he did not like having to make calls to collect receivables. My advise to him? Hire someone who is expert in collections. He took me up on my advise and eventually, his collections expert, became his partner. His business is thriving now. Hire to your weakness and watch your business boom.

Ninth Most Important Factor: Document Mistakes and Failures

This should be incorporated into your Job Process/Task List Binder. You must learn from your mistakes. Mistakes should not be considered anything other than an experience learned. Document those bad experiences and incorporate them into your job process and task list binder so as to never repeat them again.

Tenth Most Important Factor: Change Orders

Most contracts include language regarding change orders. Change orders are caused by many factors, which is beyond the scope of this article, but let me be clear in saying that you must cost out every change order as if you were costing out the job. You must then process the change order (list each task and assign a date of completion for each task) and attach a task checklist for each new task resulting from the change order. Lastly, you must get the customer to understand and sign off on the change order or you will not collect your full price for the job. Many construction contractors unfortunately do a poor job in addressing change orders. They are reluctant to highlight it with the customer and gloss over it in an effort to avoid confrontation. The reason? The reality of change orders are not addressed up front when you are bidding on the job. Customers only see the price you gave them and that is in the contract. You must address the reality of a change order occurring at the outset of the bidding process and before the contract is signed. If a customer understands from the very beginning that change orders do occur often and that a change order will increase the price of the job, you will be less shy about confronting the customer when it does occur.